From the moment you found out that you were pregnant, you likely began daydreaming about the many beautiful experiences that you’ll create with your partner: inviting friends and family over to share the news, decorating your baby’s nursery and welcoming your new baby into the family for the first time. And sure, these things will happen, but it’s not unusual for the occasional moment of tension to arise, and yes, even arguments.
There’s no greater bond than bringing a child into the world together, but it won’t always feel that way. This is the biggest responsibility either one of you will take on. Having such a drastic shift in your dynamic as a couple will definitely add extra stress, no matter how solid your relationship is.
From doctor appointments and new parenting classes, to picking out the safest car seat and stroller, everything in your lives now becomes focused on this new little person. Since your relationship during pregnancy sets the tone for how you’ll be as parents, it’s important to be extra focused on your foundation as a couple during these nine months, and put out any little fires that might flare up. Here’s what to really expect when you’re expecting and our best ideas for keeping your relationship strong.
1. You’ll have more commitments together
Gone are the days when “quality time” meant sipping cocktails at the hottest bar and then sleeping until noon together the next day. With a baby on board, there are dozens of new priorities that suddenly fill up your schedule. While you will still spend time together, a lot of it will be spent at doctor appointments or stocking up on baby must-haves. If one or both of you has a particularly busy schedule, make sure you square away which events are essential for both of you to attend, and which events can be handled individually.
Make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by getting extra organized. Get a shared calendar app so you both have your appointments right on your phone and can be notified via email or pop-up alert. Back up your technology with a giant calendar hanging in the kitchen so you’ll see reminders of your commitments every day. Anything baby-related should be scheduled in your calendar like a doctor appointment. That way, neither of you will miss a thing.
2. Money will be an even bigger deal
When you promised to love each other “for richer or for poorer,” you probably didn’t realize how important finances would be in your relationship. In fact, it’s one of the biggest stressors for couples. According to a study published on the Huffington Post, money is the biggest predictor of divorce. One of you may be a spender, one of you may be a saver, and you both may disagree on where exactly your money should go each month. Add an upcoming baby into the mix, and that source of tension becomes magnified. There are so many more financial decisions that you have to suddenly worry about, and they carry more weight than which one of you is spending the most money on shoes. Are you the worst parents ever if you opt for the basic $200 car seat instead of the top-of-the-line $1,000 one? What if you need an emergency C-section and have to spend a couple extra days under doctor care?
If money is already a point of contention in your relationship, make sure that you sit down together and really hash out what your new budget will look like. Factor in everything you need during your pregnancy, including hospital bills, and plan ahead up to 6 months post-baby. That way, you won’t be surprised when another doctor’s bill comes in the mail, or your newborn blows through more diapers than you expected.
3. Relationships during pregnancy are more emotional
You know that feeling you get at certain times of the month when you want to cry at every cheesy commercial or could explode with anger at the drop of a hat? Pregnancy is like that sometimes, except 10x more intense. With your new hormones raging, and more stress in your life than ever before, what with getting a nursery together and preparing to welcome precious baby into the world and all, emotions are high. Tempers are bound to flare. And as understanding as your partner might be, he’s bound to take the brunt of this new mommy-to-be stress.
If you’re upset or offended by something your partner has said or done, take a deep breath and count to three before having an immediate knee-jerk response. Then calmly state your point in a straightforward manner. The more you can calmly and cooly articulate your point to your partner, the more productive conversations you’ll both have.
4. Intimacy will dwindle
You both want it, you both need it, but sometimes it’s just not in the cards as often as you may like. Sex is essential for any healthy relationship, but with a baby on the way, your bedroom is sure to be less active. Even for a couple who ranks intimacy high on their list of priorities, the physical toll pregnancy takes on the body is a total libido-killer. With swollen feet, increased fatigue, and a growing belly, you’re probably not feeling your sexiest. Add in the fluctuating hormones and bouts of sickness, and you probably won’t be in the mood nearly as often as you’d like.
It’s important to meet each other’s needs, but you both need to be open about just how much pregnancy will change your sex life. Even if you don’t want to go all the way, try to find some sexy activities to keep the intimacy thriving, such as foot rubs, back massages, or drawing a bath.
5. You’ll be resentful of your partner
Carrying a life inside of you is beautiful and all, but it comes with a lot of restrictions: no alcohol, no soft deli meat, no sushi, and basically no fun for the better part of a year. With a lack of restful sleep, the need to constantly pee, and the general discomfort that comes with pregnancy, carrying a baby gets real exhausting, real quick. So it comes as no surprise that you’re bound to be jealous of your partner who can unwind with a few beers, enjoy all kinds of unpasteurized food, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up with boundless energy (and no morning sickness).
Although these feelings are totally natural, try to keep in mind that your partner probably isn’t trying to rub his non-pregnant lifestyle in your face. If it’s really becoming annoying and making you uncomfortable, tell him that you understand that even though he isn’t the one who is pregnant, you would appreciate him being a little more considerate. If necessary, set some ground rules: no sub sandwiches or soft cheeses in my presence, please.
6. He could feel left out
It’s totally normal for your guy to start feeling a little left out of the bonding process. Your partner may get to enjoy a glass of wine and be able to see his feet when he looks down, but he doesn’t get to experience the intense bond that comes with carrying a baby for nine months, no matter how many pounds of sympathy weight he gains. You got to be in the spotlight and enjoy baby showers, cute baby gifts, and expectant mother parking spots. And while you’re lucky to feel every kick and every move, he’s just trying to keep up with each milestone.
Even when you’re tired, cranky, and just want some alone time, be sure to include your partner in the exciting bonding activities. Let him feel your belly when the baby kicks, and have him talk directly into your baby bump, as cheesy as that sounds. The more he can feel connected to the baby during pregnancy, the closer you two will become.